A Collection of Colophons

There appear to be a number of colophons throughout the Book of Genesis, and through them some amazing truths shine through…

The careful study of these and the textual and descriptive characteristics that seem to vary throughout has led some scholars to conclude that its original authors – or possessors – were:

  • Adam (Genesis 2:5 – 5:2)
  • Noah (5:3 – 6:9a)
  • the Sons of Noah (Genesis 6:9b – 10:1)
  • Shem (Genesis 10:2 – 11:10a)
  • Terah (Genesis 11:10b – 11:27a)
  • Isaac & Ishmael (Genesis 11:27b – 25:19a)
  • Jacob & Esau (Genesis 25:19b – 37:2a)

As no author is given for Genesis 1:1 – 2:4, Wiseman suggested that God Himself may have wrote that portion Himself for the benefit of Adam and his line, much as He wrote the commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai:

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”             (Exodus 31:18)

The_Ten_Commandments_
The Ten Commandments, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company

Intriguingly, the last colophon in the Book of Genesis is found in 37:2a, which corresponds with a geographic change in the text, from Mesopotamia, where colophons were used prolifically, to Egypt. The implication is that Joseph likely wrote the subsequent portion of Genesis, and did so without the use of colophons.

List of Colophon Verses

Genesis 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens…
Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam…
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah…
Genesis 10:1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth…
Genesis 11:10 These are the generations of Shem…
Genesis 11:27 Now these are the generations of Terah…
Genesis 25:12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son…
Genesis 25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son…
Genesis 36:1 Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom.
Genesis 36:9 And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir…
Genesis 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob…

So, coming back to it, what was Moses’s role in the formulation of the book of Genesis? The evidence, as is clear to see, strongly suggests that he was the ultimate compiler, translator, and editor of the texts handed down since the beginning from generation to generation, writing Genesis in his own hand based on the account of those who came earlier, guided through the task by the Holy Spirit. Given his role as emancipator and de facto leader amongst the Hebrews, Moses would certainly have been regarded as worthy enough to handle the priceless records and autographic testimonies of the patriarchs, each no doubt maintained by successive generations since they were first inscribed. His royal education likely gave him the rare ability to read, understand, and write the ancient cuneiform of the patriarchs, and likewise the Egyptian papyri that Joseph penned.

011 - Ancient Near Eastern Scripts & Alphabets
Ancient Near Eastern Scripts & Alphabets

Moses thus set to translate those records from cuneiform and Egyptian to a fashion of Hebrew, the language of the Israelites, updating obsolete geographic names and locales as necessary. It may even have been that the inclusion of the various colophons – and even the original geographic names – were left by Moses within the compiled account as a measure of reverence and admiration for the patriarchs who first wrote them.

With that, we can see that the two primary arguments of critics, whether believers or nonbelievers, regarding the chronology and authenticity of the “Book of Beginnings” authorship can be adequately addressed by the known facts and other literary evidence. Beyond the initial implications, we must also understand that, if the evidence is to be believed, then the cuneiformic origins of the book of Genesis, specifically chapters 1-11, would effectively represent the oldest writings in human history. This would utterly invalidate the claims made by critics that the events of Genesis were inspired by earlier pagan legends. It also would roundly demonstrate that monotheism – a belief in a single god – was the original religious disposition, as opposed to the contrary claim by critics.

 


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